Patriots picking up DT Alan Branch's $400K bonus

Defensive tackle Alan Branch started 15 of 16 games last season for the Patriots. Elsa/Getty Images

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots informed veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch that they are picking up his $400,000 bonus that is due Wednesday, which ensures his return to the team in 2016.

The 6-foot-6, 350-pound Branch started 15 of 16 games for the Patriots last season, playing well alongside 2015 first-round pick Malcom Brown. He was credited with 35 tackles and one sack.

Branch, 31, had signed a two-year contract with the club last offseason with a maximum value of $6.6 million. As part of the deal, the sides inserted a $400,000 bonus due on the first day of the 2016 league year (Wednesday) that had to be picked up to activate the second season.

Often times it's a formality that the bonuses are picked up, and the odds favored the Patriots doing so with Branch. Every once in a while, however, there is an unexpected surprise when the team doesn't pick up a bonus in that type of situation (e.g. Brandon Browner last offseason).

With the Patriots not tendering an offer to restricted free agent Sealver Siliga and facing competition from multiple teams to retain unrestricted free agent Akiem Hicks, picking up Branch's bonus ensures the club's depth at defensive tackle isn't further depleted.

Defensive tackle personnel under contract for 2016

Malcom Brown

Alan Branch

Dominique Easley

Chris Jones

Ishmaa'ily Kitchen

Joe Vellano